Glasses lift into a treble-laden symphony of toasts and from a distance, many of the elixirs they contain seem nearly the same. Up close, 28 wines by the glass and more than 75 unique varietals by the bottle span a rainbow of hues, from reds deep and earthy enough to appear almost black to white wines barely kissed with a delicate straw color. In The Hidden Vine Wine Bar and Lounge's dedicated room for tastings and classes, guests further hone noses and taste buds to make nearly imperceptible distinctions in flavor and bouquet.
Drawing upon family recipes held close to their hearts, culinarians fill two dining areas with inventive dishes including bruschetta draped in paper-thin soppressata, peach honey, and hanger steak. Beneath diamond-shaped burgundy paintings, forks chatter against plates of fresh pasta and patrons sidle up to the marble bar for a chilly cocktail. A patio begs diners to let the warm sun aid in digestion or in calming outraged bulls delivering pamphlets to the eatery's crimson ceilings.
Southington Wine and Spirits stocks its cellar with an extensive array of reds and whites dispensed to consuming clientele by a brigade of knowledgeable staffers during cranium-packing classes. Taught by Court of Master Sommeliers member Matteo Fagin, Wine 101 classes guide novices through an overview of the evening's sampled wines, bestow pointers on advanced techniques for discerning each concoction's flavors, and disproves the theory that wine is made by tricking raisins into taking a bath. Subsequent tastings pair pours of six wines culled from myriad regions with abundant appetizers. Courses commence at Pagliacci's Restaurant on Monday or Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. or in students’ minds as soon as they master astral projection.
Inside Cork & Brew, a husband-and-wife team infects customers with their passion for brewing, judging, and, of course, drinking wines and beers. Primarily, they hope to de-mystify home brewing and winemaking with classes, winemaking parties, and even homebrew get-togethers at a residence or office. They stock all the necessary equipment, including fresh hops, grain, and malt, as well as wine must from all over the world. The duo’s hookup with a custom-labeling source allows their clients to brighten up bottles before giving them away as gifts, displaying them on wine racks, or using them to christen newly-purchased ocean liners. Guests also may mingle through the newly opened banquet and party facility, which hosts soirees of 10–80 people.
At Club 19 Restaurant, two lobster rolls can function as a free-weight—the hearty sandwiches, drizzled in melted butter, come in quarter- and half-pound varieties. Nestled in Hawk's Landing Country Club near a verdant golf course, the eatery boasts other American classics, too. There's juicy burgers crowned with toppings such as bacon and onion rings, plus three-tiered club sandwiches, and glasses (or pitchers) of beer to wash it all down.
Dotcom Wine & Spirits, winner of the 2010 Best of Hartford award, is fully stocked with bottle buddies for all shapes, sizes, and species of wine. Its staff of expert sommeliers helps weaves wine wayfarers through the extensive collection of oenophilic ornaments. Grape-stompers can tiptoe through the glassware selection, which includes the Stolzle Burgundy receptacles ($9.99) and the Riedel Vinum Bordeaux two-pack ($69.99). Remove sediment from older wines with a Ravenscroft Omega decanter ($59.99), or pick up a six-bottle wood wine box to ensure that your wines will never feel lonely at night again ($39.99). Pop open a bottle's gob with Dotcom's Gattorna corkscrew ($50) and reward well-behaved blends with a slide down the aerating funnel ($19.99). Ample outdoor parking means that grape enthusiasts can amble through Dotcom's warmly-lit, wood-paneled aisles to remind the more than 5,000 wines on the shelves to play nicely with their accessories.